Museum Campus

Architectural Features and Galleries

Museum Hill – Architectural Features
Museum Hill – Architectural Features

The west façade of the building with the main entry is seen upon approach to the site. The front portal (1, see floorplan above) is a typical feature in Pueblo-Spanish Revival design, but here a rare wooden element is found. Unlike most portals, the exposed header beam and the carved corbels surmounting the viga posts are hewn from one large piece of wood rather than separate pieces attached during construction.


Accompanying the original wooden entry door with iron hardware is a historic tinwork sconce. A small window with visual access into the living room is covered by a spindled-grille.

According to Bainbridge Bunting’s 1983 publication, John Gaw Meem: Southwestern Architect, Meem’s draftsmen found inspiration from a 1928 publication by Arthur Byne and Mildred Stapley, Spanish Interiors and Furniture. “No fewer than twenty-three specific parallels between the book and house could be identified.” This three-volume hardcover publication is held in the Society’s reference library.

The front entry hall (2) features a pair of historic tinwork sconces. It opens into the living room (the largest room in the house) on the right and the dining room on the left. The east portal is accessed through a double gate of spindled wood and glass at the east end of the entry hall. These public rooms are furnished with wooden grilles that hide the former radiator heating system.

Museum Hill – Architectural Features

The living room (3) is stepped down from adjacent rooms and accessed through double pintle doors on the north. The Grand Sala features a tall ceiling with vigas and herringbone design aspen pole decking above, three pairs of large windows, and a fireplace with banco. The small window that looks onto the front portal can be closed with a pair of rosette-carved shutters.

The dining room (4) features a corner fireplace, an inset alacena repurposed from an older historic structure, a tiled windowsill for setting down hot pots of food, and a hard plastered ceiling between carved square wooden beams to eliminate the potential of debris falling onto the food service large east portal (5) is brightly lit by many small-paned historic windows and doors between lightning-carved corbels and viga posts. Other interesting features include a uniquely-shaped double nicho at the south end and a fireplace with banco at the north end. A radiator cover beside the entrance into the dining room has a cupboard above it that functioned as a plate warmer in the winter months.

A large outdoor space, accessed from the east portal, has a large crabapple tree and other plantings within an enclosing banco on the east side. This east courtyard is used in warmer months for museum and rental programs.

The kitchen (6) is accessed from the north side of the dining room and the east portal. Original Mexican tile flooring, countertops, and a large decorative panel remain. It currently displays artwork from Traditional Spanish Market youth artists. The museum exit goes through the kitchen into the front patio with a large crabapple tree.

Southeast of the living room and the east portal are the more private rooms, including the library, the principal bedroom with closet and bathroom, a second bathroom, and two additional bedrooms.

The library (7) retains its original book shelves, repurposed for display cabinets and a small fireplace at the northwest corner.

The principal bedroom (8) has its own fireplace in the northwest corner and an outdoor access door to a small porch and the east courtyard garden.

The principal bathroom (9) preserves a built-in vanity with drawers and cabinets. Inside one of the cabinet doors, a beautiful vase with floral bouquet was painted in polychrome colors by a former resident of the house.

The deep walk-in principal bedroom closet (10) was opened up on the long side to accommodate exhibits.

The second bedroom (11) features another fireplace in the southeast corner. The second bathroom (12) was removed and this space became a hallway gallery that provides access to the adjacent Stockman Collections Center addition. Following historic preservation principles, the addition’s attachment goes through an existing opening and is set back from the front façade of the historic building.

The third bedroom (13) has a small closet on the north side. This rare feature in the historic house resulted from leftover space behind the large fireplace and banco in the adjacent living room.